Stubbornness in dogs can be hilarious - unless it's our dog. When we have the dog who won't come when he's called, walk at heel, get into the car, or whatever, it's beyond stressful.
So how do we deal with this?
It's important to know that your dog is trainable. Some breeds might have a greater tendency towards independence, such as cattle dogs, or might get distracted by scents, such as pointers, but no dog is beyond help.
Definitely starting training earlier in a dog's life can off-set issues, but dogs can learn at just about any age.
1. Be patient If your dog has been rewarded for a few years for doing whatever he wants, then he's not going to learn immediately to do what you want. Start with getting him to come when he's called. Then give him lots of treats and pats. Then move to having him sit and stay. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, your dog will take some time to learn that his willful nature can't and won't stand when it conflicts with your needs.
2. Be consistent. Dogs learn with repetition. Make the expectation simple and clear, and do it again and again. Reward the good behavior only. Your dog will soon learn what is expected of him, and that it makes both of you happy for him to do this.
3. Cut the distractions. An early mistake I made when training my dog to walk at heel was to go to a busy city park on a beautiful Sunday. All around us were bicyclists and skateboarders and joggers and geese and of course, other dogs. My poor dog could barely pay attention to me and was still amped up when we returned to the car. After that I chose lesser traveled areas with fewer things to make his head swivel. Dogs are reactive when exposed to things not generally a part of their normal lives. But when you gradually add distractions into their training, you still have control.
4. Keep your emotions in check. Your dog will not do everything perfectly. He may not want to do anything at all. It can be frustrating, but don't let that overwhelm you. If you become unhinged, your dog will feed off of this. He might get scared or anxious or excited. None of that is helpful. Instead, be proactive and give gentle redirections if he makes a mistake.
Keeping these basic tips in mind will save both you and your dog lots of aggravation, and in the end you'll have a calmer and less stressful home.